The relation of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), IL-4, IL-10 production and specific IgE, total IgG, IgG subclass expression to the effectiveness of pharmacological treatment in human hydatid disease (Echinococcus granulosus infection) was evaluated in 27 hydatid patients divided into four clinical groups according to their response to albendazole/mebendazole therapy (full, partial, low and non-responders). After parasite antigen stimulation, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from full responders produced significantly more IFN-gamma (P = 0.038), significantly less IL-4 (P = 0.001) and less IL-10 than PBMC from non-responders. PBMC from partial and low responders produced intermediate cytokine concentrations. ELISA determining immunoglobulin production showed that sera from all non-responders had IgE and IgG4 antibodies, both regulated by IL-4. In contrast to IgG4, IgE decreased rapidly in full responders. Full responders also showed the highest percentage of IgG3 reactions. Qualitative analysis of total IgG responses in hydatid patients' sera determined by immunoblotting showed that binding profiles to hydatid cyst fluid antigen differed in the four groups of treated patients. Non-responders had the highest percentage of reactions to all subunits of antigens 5 and B, and full responders had the highest percentage of reactions to antigen 5 alone. The high IFN-gamma production associated with a lack of IL-4 and low IL-10 production in the full responders, and vice versa the high IL-4 and IL-10 production associated with lack of or low IFN-gamma production in the non-responders implies Th1 cell activation in protective immunity and Th2 cell activation in susceptibility to hydatid disease. IgE may be a useful marker of therapeutic success in hydatid patients with pretreatment specific IgE antibodies. IgG subclass responses and differential immunoglobulin subclass binding pattern to hydatid antigens may also be useful in the immunosurveillance of hydatid disease.